There was a time, before advancements in technology allowed for high quality video recording, when American Sign Language existed only in face-to-face interactions. It was a language that literally brought people together.
Today it is possible to share and preserve this visual language in many contexts. One thrilling manifestation of this is the outcropping of ASL and English bilingual eBooks. You can read more about them here, here and here.
I recently became aware of a new eBook entitled Alistair the Armadillo by Mike Brumby and Cipta Croft-Cusworth available for download by clicking here. You can also learn more about Alistair and his creators by visiting here.
My friend and former coteacher, Lauren, reviewed the book for me and her thoughts are below.
"Overall the story is a good read. Its message wound up differently than I thought it would be. I thought it would be one of acceptance and tolerance, but it was about promoting health and physical activity among peers. It's about an armadillo who is different from the rest of his fez (pack of armadillos) because he's happy, healthy, clean and active while the fez is lethargic, depressed and filthy. They stay indoors and do not venture outside. Alistair has a vision in a dream and leads his fez to a mountain where they find bountiful, colorful food and a glimmering lake that bathes them clean. The fez changes its outlook and all live happily ever after.
The writing is simple and straightforward. The illustrations are pleasant and support the text well and add an ethnic, cultural feeling to the book. After I finished the book I looked at the credits and realized the author and illustrator are based in Indonesia.
That might explain the slight accent of the man who did the ASL translation. His translation is super tight, really ON the text. He does not add or take away anything. I was really impressed with his precision. His execution is crisp, clear and accurate. His signing demeanor is gentle and pleasant.
Even though the book isn't age appropriate for Levi, he loved the pictures and imitated the signer. Levi could appreciate the book, so I think this book has good appeal. I'd vouch for it."
It was also recently named a Silver winner in the 2013 Moonbeam Children's eBook Award contest in the Languages/Cultural category. Stay tuned for more Alistair books and watch for other bilingual eBooks combining ASL and English.